Anger mounts in Russian Federation over mall fire

Charlene Craig
March 29, 2018

Flags flew at half-staff across Russian Federation on Wednesday as the country mourned 64 victims - many of them children - of a shopping mall fire in Siberia.

President Vladimir Putin arrived to the city earlier today and met some of the survivors at the hospital.

The fire tore through the upper floors of the Winter Cherry Mall on Sunday, engulfing a kids amusement area and movie theater.

A court in Kemerovo is expected to rule later Wednesday on the arrests of one of the mall's tenants, the mall's technical director, two employees of a company maintaining the fire alarm system and a security guard who the investigators said turned off the fire alarm.

Several thousand people rallied outside the local government headquarters, saying that officials must be sacked over the fire safety shortcomings. "Because of criminal negligence, because of slovenliness".

The investigators did not give the cause of the fire but said they have obtained evidence proving "flagrant violations" that could have contributed to the heavy loss of life.

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Al Jazeera's Rory Challands reports from Moscow. They said 41 of the victims were children.

"We're not calling for blood", he said.

Protester Igor Vostrikov told deputy governor Sergei Tsivilyov: 'The children are dead; you can't give them back. He has suggested that a man who lost his sister, wife, and three children in the fire was engaging in self-promotion.

The lawmaker, Yelena Mizulina, also told Kemerovo residents and all Russians during the program that they can "prove that you're all on one team" and urged them not to "give into provocations" or discuss "rumors and all kinds of nasty things". She should have run out, but everything was locked.

Pope Francis says he is "deeply saddened" by the fire at a shopping mall in Russian Federation.

"The authorities were late in announcing mourning", political analyst Abbas Gallyamov told Vedomosti business daily. "Corruption!" the crowd chanted Tuesday at officials in the administrative buildings of Kemerovo.

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While Putin was in the city, he did not come onto the square and met a small group of protesters separately. "Everyone will be checked one by one, from those who issued licenses to those who were supposed to ensure safety", Putin said.

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny called on people to attend a protest event later on Tuesday in Moscow.

In Moscow, St. Petersburg and many other cities across Russian Federation, tens of thousands were bringing flowers and soft toys to makeshift memorials to the fire victims. "These ruling powers killed them", said 26-year-old Varvara Mikhailova.

"We have been locked inside the movie theatre".

When her aunt Evgenia called her, Vika said: "Everything is burning, the doors are blocked". That may have accounted for the large number of young victims.

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